Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving memories!

It’s the Thanksgiving weekend in the US and Canada and though just a regular weekend in India, I can’t help but get nostalgic about this American Harvest holiday and the associated events like Black Friday – when you can literally shop till you drop!! Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November every year and is historically a celebration of the year’s harvest. Like any other festival, this one too calls for a feast and the centerpiece being a large roasted turkey, with cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy……not very appetizing for vegetarians like me!J Anyway, for non-American residents like us, Thanksgiving was a time to party, travel and shop!  Thanksgiving also means the onset of cold hard winter that is of course well compensated by the holiday season that lasts until the end of the year. In Bangalore, I happen to notice the traditional American holiday featured in many local newspapers and even on a couple of radio shows! In fact the Hippo campus in Bangalore has a special thanksgiving themed event meant for kids. Coming to think of it, it should hardly be a surprise as every fourth person in Bangalore has probably lived in the US at some point of time in their lives….so now almost all American holidays have been Bangalored!!!

Last year at Thanksgiving
In keeping with the same spirit, today I read “The First Thanksgiving” by Linda Hayward and illustrated by James Watling, a Level 3 in Step into Reading series of Early Readers. Being a little too advanced for Abhay,  I read this book like any other picture book. This book is about the First Thanksgiving dinner held by the Pilgrims who sailed to the US aboard their ship named “Mayflower”. It brings to light the challenges and difficulties faced by the Pilgrims in the new land. Added to that was the constant fear of attack by the native Indians, who were in fact equally apprehensive of the new settlers. The first winter takes a toll on the Pilgrim community with many losing their lives due to extreme temperatures, starvation, and strange diseases. It is only when the weather gets warmer, things brighten up and they befriend the native Indians with whose help they manage to build their houses, cultivate the lands, grow food and finally harvest their crop around November that year. Feeling extremely thankful, they decide to have feast and invite their Indian friends who are more than eager to attend. The feast begins with a prayer of thanks and lasts for three whole days and that is the origin of Thanksgiving.  This book definitely makes an interesting read not only for kids but also adults who are fascinated by history! To all our friends in the US and those who celebrate it here – Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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